PPP stands high in Senate slots contest

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is pitched against heavy odds and it seems quite difficult for the ruling alliance to attain the required number to get its men installed in the priced slots of chairman and deputy chairman of Senate.
On the other hand Pakistan People’s Party leadership seems quite comfortable with most of the opposition parties standing with them, either by choice or by compulsion. Even some of these parties have already given assurance to PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari of their unconditional support to their candidates for the top positions of Upper House of the Parliament.
Political manoeuvring for wooing the support of smaller parliamentary parties in the Upper House of the Parliament was touching its zenith and despite the rainy day in federal capital the political atmosphere was quite hot with main players engaged in hectic consultations for securing maximum number of Senators in their fold. Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) consultative meeting was held at its chief Fazlur Rehman’s residence in Ministers’ Colony to decide about their course of action in the elections of Senate top slots, with majority of participants expressing their displeasure over the way PML-N had ditched them at the time of passage of 21st Constitutional Amendment.
Sources in JUI-F said that the majority of senior party leaders suggested that the party should place some tough conditions for extending support to PML-N candidates or side with opposition parties’ alliance. Some insiders said that Fazl could ask government for addressing their concerns over the 21st amendment or JUI-F could stay neutral in the elections by abstaining from voting.
JUI-F leadership would also be attending the consultative meeting of parliamentary parties called by Asif Zardari at his Islamabad residence today (Monday), and the party would continue in-house consultations to draw some final line of action in the meanwhile. Political analysts said that breaking away of Fazl from the ruling alliance would turn out to be fatal for PML-N which would even find it hard to remain in race.
Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) leadership has already said a clear ‘no’ when it was approached by the PML-N and Chaudhrys from Gujrat would definitely be siding with Zardari in the contest. Ch Pervaiz Elahi had arrived here in federal capital to attend today’s PPP convened meeting, sources in the party informed.
These sources said that at the time of Senate elections PML-Q through some channels had approached the PML-N leadership seeking its support for getting the party chief Ch Shujaat Hussain re-elected to Upper House of the Parliament from Punjab, for which PPP Co-Chairman had already offered his unconditional support to him (Shujaat), but after the plain no from PML-N leadership, Shujaat stayed away and his party extended support to PPP candidate Nadeem Afzal Chan.
Sources further said that Awami National Party was also approached by ruling PML-N, but it is in complete harmony with Pakistan People’s Party. Both the parties had also contested Senate elections from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa in alliance. The chances of ANP chief Asfandyar Wali Khan going with ruling PML-N are almost zero, a source in ANP said.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) with their mainstay in Karachi could also not afford to annoy Pakistan People’s Party, which holds reins of power in Sindh, and its chances of joining the ruling alliance also seems to be negligible. MQM has already decided to join Sindh government and they could not break the alliance with PPP for a couple of ministerial slots, the maximum ruling PML-N could offer to them, a senior Parliamentarian said.
On top of it, by bringing a Presidential Ordinance to change the mode of elections for Senators from Fata just a few hours before the polling, the PML-N has greatly annoyed the Fata members in both houses of the parliament. If history is anything to judge from, Fata members used to side with sitting government at federal level, but by bringing untimely ordinance the PML-N government had almost lost their complete or at least decisive support for the elections of chairman and deputy chairman of Senate.
With Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman deciding to stay away from the elections and in case of further delay in the elections for four Fata senators, only 90 members of the Upper House could exercise their right to vote for the elections of two top positions in the Upper House. In that case things would greatly swing in favour of Pakistan People’s Party and its allies who right now command the strength of around 50 Senators (excluding JUI-F). After the March 5 elections, PPP has 27 Senators, MQM 8, JUI-F 5, ANP 7, PML-Q 4 and BNP (Awami) 2 senators in a 104 member house.
Sources in Pakistan People’s Party informed that MQM, ANP, JUI-F, PML-Q, Fata and BNP (Awami) have confirmed their participation in the meeting called by Zardari today. PPP spokesman Farhatullah Babar said that the meeting is aimed at discussing prospects and strategy for fielding consensus candidates for the offices of Senate chairman and deputy chairman on March 12.

Source: The Nation

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